I have nearly come full circle in the abortion debate. In college I took the stand that while I personally believed abortion was wrong I could not make that decision for another individual. It was at the time a cowardly stance, derived by the fact that I did not really want to have to think about the details of the issue. A few years later, my pro-life views became more predominant and I believed that no one had the “right” to abort a baby, period. These views were fueled primarily by a religious spirit that was equally unwilling to look into the deeper elements of the choice/life issue. In the last couple years, however, I have come to see why some women believe they have or had no other options, and how others did not even understand what they were doing at the time they were doing it. I have become more personally aware of the difficulties single moms encounter. I am more attuned to the emotional ramifications of the various choices women face, thanks in part to the blogger I talked about in my CHOICES post. Yet, I also believe individuals ultimately choose how they live, and what they value even when their choices are heavily influenced by outside forces or challenging circumstances.
One of my favorite books in high school was Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. In it, Frankl recounts some of his experiences and observations while a prisoner in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. As he reflected on the cruelty of those who seemingly had control over him and his fellow prisoners, Frankl concluded that even though they were stripped of their possessions, separated from their families most of whom they never saw again, and forced to live, work, and die under horrendous conditions they still could decide how to respond to their captors and their circumstances. Frankl’s situation was extreme yet he noted the same extreme cruelty perpetrated against each prisoner did not always result in the same kind of responses on the part of each prisoner. While some gave up, others persevered. While some tried to curry favor with the S. S. others turned on those prisoners who succeeded in gaining favor. While some filled their minds with thoughts of revenge others chose to forgive their captors. And, while some would do anything in order to get more food or a better pair of shoes others would not.
All our actions have consequences. Some of the consequences are desired and some are not. At the same time, we are not always in control of what happens to us. A car can run a red light and hit our car. The situation is out of our control. Yet, at that moment we choose to respond and our response is in our control. Some might get out of their car and start screaming at the person who ran the red light. Others might demand to see the driver’s insurance information. And, still others might ask if the driver and passengers from the other vehicle are okay. These responses–self-righteous, legalistic, and compassionate–are actually the three basic responses people have to most every situation. The self-righteous response includes blaming someone or something else for our behavior when our behavior might be seen as less than ideal. The legalistic response includes justifying our behavior because the law or the social customs say we are within our “rights” to respond the way we do. Interestingly, Jesus was neither impressed with the Pharisees nor the Romans, the law nor the social customs. His heart was for the hurting, the wounded, the oppressed, and the helpless.
Like I said, with regard to the abortion issue: I have nearly come full circle. Should abortion be legal? Ultimately, I still stand on the no side of that issue but my toes are touching the line that separates the two camps. While I cannot support the taking of life, especially life that cannot defend itself, the fact of the matter is that abortion is already legal. Personally, I do not see this fact changing and the amount of time and resources we spend to try and change the law are a waste. Jesus did not form political action committees or country clubs to try to force change or establish social standards within the established systems. Instead, He chose to form relationships which circumvented these systems in order to change hearts.
Recently, I landed on this the Recycle Your Faith website and watched this video. I realized while I do have very strong convictions on the issue of abortion I have even stronger convictions as to what it means to love. And, if I am to error in loving someone I much rather error on the part of loving with too much grace than on loving with too much law.